Alumni Stories: Meet Zach Johnson-Medland

Name: Zach Johnson-Medland

Graduation Year & Degree: 2018 Bachelor of Fine Arts

Major: Graphic Design

Current Occupation: Graphic Designer/Business Owner

How long at prior job: 6 years part time and now 10 months full time

Current Website: https://gumptiondesign.co

Instagram: @gumptiondesignco

Facebook: @gumptiondesigncompany

LinkedIn: @gumption-design-co-llc

What was your favorite part about studying art at Marywood?

One favorite thing is hard to pick, maybe its easier to work backwards from what I found out I didn’t like. I started my college career in Tyler School of Art at Temple, and loved the classes, but hated living in the city. After growing up in the Poconos, I really needed something smaller and more manageable. I came to Marywood in sophomore year and instantly felt at home. I loved that Scranton was just down the road, and the campus was gorgeous. The classes were a lot smaller and more intimate, which meant I got to know my teachers, classmates, and the community I was in. My favorite thing was the sense of community that made Marywood feel a lot bigger that it really was.

How did your art education at Marywood help your career?

All my teachers, Chris, Sue, Steven, John, and so many more helped shape my idea about what being an artist or designer meant. They also shared so much of their personal experiences in the real work about how they worked, and what they learned. Slowly, you start to take all of their knowledge and figure out how you want contribute to the world. Also, my internship and freelancing on the side really helped solidify my desire to be a designer. 

What attracted you to this career path?

I love working with businesses, and figuring out how they work, and then using my knowledge about user design, marketing, and collaboration to further their vision. 

Did your career path match your vision of a career path? What’s different?

Not at all, I don’t think it’s not supposed to. The process of trying new things is the most important aspect, then integrating what you learned. Once you take some pressure off yourself, you can “get messy and make mistakes.” I took time to just paint houses for awhile, and honestly I loved it. It gave me time to think about my design projects that I worked on later in the day. Through that experience, and the subsequent job working at a fly fishing shop doing just about anything they’d let me, I realized I loved talking to customers, and learning about them, and serving them with my talents. I always thought I’d be working in some giant agency, but realized I liked working with the local shops and businesses.

What is your favorite thing about your current job?

My favorite thing is probably the flexibility I have now, and the way that helps me stay creative and motivated. I work traditional business hours–8ish to 6ish depending on the day–but I do other things as needed throughout the day to keep me from getting bored, or burnt out, like take the dog for a walk, grab coffee, go to the gym. It keeps your brain from getting stale. You’ll also be surprised how having time to devote to the things you enjoy allows you to say yes to more things you enjoy. 

Are you currently working on any interesting side projects?

I have a few things that keep me tinkering. I tie flies for fly fishing in the winter, which I can always use more of. I also have been working with my local co-working spot, The Candy Factory (https://candyissweet.com/), to put together a creative meetup. 

What are some of the biggest rewards in your career?

The biggest reward you can give yourself, and I have to remind myself constantly, is valuing your own creativity and what it can do for the world around you. I recently did a visionary contracting gig with an unnameable company (NDA’s are great). You essentially just sit in on a consulting session and help them visualize their solutions. It blew my mind that this was something that people wanted, needed, and hire people to do. I could have never imagined that ironically enough. The biggest reward for me is seeing that creativity and imagination really are one of your most powerful tools, and being reminded of that everyday. 

What’s something that would surprise people about your day-to-day?

You would be surprised how much of your day can get sucked into emails, planning, and business management tasks like making sure payments get made, following up with people, and marketing yourself. Whenever I get sick of doing this stuff I try to restructure my day a bit so I do more of what I love (ie. design, writing, and drawing).

What inspires you?

#1 Meeting and Learning about other people who do amazing things: In line with how important imagination is. Its important to learn about other people, and meet other people who are doing cool stuff. It opens your mind up to new possibilities that maybe you never thought were possible. 

#2 When I first went out on my own I must have listened to the YouTube video Sue Jenkins showed us on our last day of school almost every day. Every single line he says is true and accurate. I try to re-watch it once a week for a refresher. 

#3: Little things that are meticulously cared for: I love walking through the city, woods, or thrift shop and finding little details of beautiful design. Sometimes its a salt and pepper shaker, sometimes its a cool leaf, and sometimes its a weird lawn sculpture. 

Any advice for current art students at Marywood?

Keep being yourself, try to help the world/other people when you can, and surround yourself with people who encourage you.

Website: https://gumptiondesign.co

Instagram: @gumptiondesignco

Facebook: @gumptiondesigncompany

LinkedIn: @gumption-design-co-ll

YearlyReview_GumptionDesignCo


ARE YOU INTERESTED IN STUDYING Graphic Design?

Graphic Design – Bachelor of Fine Arts: Design
Our graphic design program at Marywood will introduce you to a variety of design disciplines. Conceptual development, technical skills and professionalism are emphasized. Students have the opportunity to work independently, with partners, in small groups, with professionals in the field and real clients. Regular class critiques and portfolio reviews are stressed throughout the program.
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Low Residency MFAs in Graphic Design and Illustration are offered through our “Get Your Masters with the Masters” MFA for Working Professionals and Educators in Graphic Design & Illustration. This 60-credit Master of Fine Arts degree is specifically designed for working art directors, designers, illustrators, new media artists and art educators who have to budget their time and resources carefully, while continuing with their full-time occupations. While production and technical skills are stressed, the thrust of our program is on creativity and concept.
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2 thoughts on “Alumni Stories: Meet Zach Johnson-Medland

  1. Hey Zach, thanks for sharing your story and insights on your career in graphic design. It’s great to hear about your experience studying at Marywood and how it helped shape your ideas about what it means to be an artist or designer. The sense of community that you found at Marywood sounds like it was really important to you, and I can definitely see how that would be beneficial to your work as a designer.
    I also appreciate your honesty about how your career path didn’t match your initial vision, but how that ended up being a positive thing. It’s a reminder that things don’t always go as planned, but that the process of trying new things and making mistakes is crucial to finding your way. It’s cool that you found a passion for working with local businesses and that you’re able to have flexibility in your work to stay creative and motivated.

    1. Hey Mark,

      Thanks so much for the kind words. It’s always rewarding to hear that someone got something out of your honesty.

      Best,
      Zach

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